Brian Shannon, Russells, Bob Trotter. These were the three bike shops in York in the 1970s. As I remember it, they sold Raleigh bikes and Dawes bikes. Shannon’s, located on Boroughbridge Road next to the chip shop, was our local one.
I clearly remember the feeling of receiving a new bike. It happened twice. Now I know that I was very lucky to have a new one. It was time to go to the shop, when the old one was much too small. This meant that the new bike felt nice and big, I felt grown up. The new wheels were of course the most expensive gift we ever received, and I recall thinking ‘Is this really for me?’ Brian Shannon would wheel the bike out from ‘the back’, a place of mystery and delights.
Each of my two new bikes represented a dramatic increase in performance. First, from no gears to three with the Raleigh Hustler. I remember the extra speed and acceleration from changing gear. Drop handlebars, long wished for, now became a reality.
Some friends got a Raleigh Olympus, which had five gears and a derailleur. I wondered how fast you could go with two extra gears, but of course it doesn’t work like that. I rode my Hustler into the ground, with daily trips to school.
After many years, it was time for a new bike. Drop handlebars or not? Could I really have a ten speed? Another trip to Brian Shannon and I was the delighted owner of a ten speed bike, a Raleigh Merlin. I rode it around Yorkshire, down to Norfolk and down to Lulworth Cove.
I would spend a lot of time cleaning the chrome on the wheels, hub and stems. Apply a white creamy liquid, leave a while and then polish off. Dynamo lights, big battery lights, panniers, no helmets, clicking of the milo, changing the brake blocks, removing chain links, taping the handlebars, a bottle cage.
Even though the bikes are poor by today’s standards, they were new, and that’s what was so exciting.
35+ years later, Mark kindly took Sebastian to choose a bike. The result is a Specialised Pitch, which he tried for size with Jane. I asked how it felt, and he said ‘good’. He won’t forget the feeling. He’ll experience the thrill of collecting it on November 15th, his 11th birthday.